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Cannabis is creating a buzz across the globe, and thanks to CBD, it has a squeaky clean new image. It is now widely used by many people around the world, including those who have never used illegal drugs before and who have no plans to ever begin doing so. The tide is turning for cannabis, as exciting new discoveries of the plant's potential healing properties come to light. However, the CBD industry is still relatively new, and cannabis laws around the world are rapidly changing as we learn to differentiate CBD from THC.
Similarly, global laws and regulations around vaping are an always moving picture. More and more people are using vapes as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes. As a result, governments around the globe have established new laws and regulations regarding their use. At Amphora, we want everyone to feel safe and well informed when it comes to using vapes and CBD products, so we've laid out the current guidelines for CBD and vaping around the globe to help you navigate this changeable but exciting marketplace.
Hemp and Marijuana - What’s the difference?
Before delving into the legality of CBD, it is first essential to have an understanding of how it is different from its mostly illegal counterpart, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). For a long time, the term cannabis was predominantly associated with the red-eyed, intoxicating effects of marijuana but in recent years, cannabis has dominated the wellness world thanks to the healing power of cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp and marijuana are two different plants within the cannabis family. Not many people are aware of this difference; however, the chemical make-up of the two plants means they have very different qualities. Hemp is naturally low in THC and high in CBD, and on the flip side, marijuana is naturally higher in THC and lower in CBD. This is a significant difference since CBD is known for its pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties, whereas THC is responsible for the stoners 'high'. In short, THC gets you high, CBD gets you healthy. Unlike THC, CBD does not have an intoxicating effect and has been noted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as being well-tolerated in the body.
The Novel Food Act
Because of this historical misunderstanding of hemp, many laws grouped marijuana and hemp as one and banned all forms of cannabis. But with growing insight into the benefits of CBD, attitudes are changing and so is the legislation. The European Union now classifies CBD as a novel food and industrial hemp (low THC hemp) has been removed from the list of controlled drugs. That means that the government doesn't regulate it as it isn't recognised as an addictive substance or as something detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the public. Cannabidiol qualifies as a 'novel' food because, historically, it has not been widely consumed in the UK or EU, before May 1997. Novel foods cover many categories, like wholefoods, such as exotic fruits and vegetables, synthetic foodstuffs, extracts, and food derived from new processes or technologies. This year (2020), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced that any ingestible product containing CBD must undergo a safety assessment and authorisation by the European Commission. After 31 March 2021, only products that have received FSA validation will be able to be legally marketed and sold in the UK.
CBD Rules and Regulations in the UK
It's plain to see that the UK has embraced the CBD movement with open arms. Thanks to CBD's health and wellbeing potential, the excitement and popularity of CBD in the UK wellness space continues to grow. However, although the cannabinoid CBD is completely legal in the UK, the laws and regulations are still somewhat ambiguous. Currently, licenses to grow cannabis to extract CBD are not available in the UK. That means, all CBD sold and manufactured in the UK will have been imported, commonly from Europe, the US and China. The hemp used to extract the CBD must come from EU approved industrial hemp strains that comply with the THC limit of 0.2%. It is possible, however, to obtain a license to grow marijuana in the UK if it's to be exported for medicinal use… confusing, right?
Since the industry is still new, the law is changeable as governing bodies learn how to best regulate the industry. CBD is currently classified as a food supplement, and like other foodstuffs, they must comply with strict safety requirements laid out by the FSA. The FSA is not involved in regulating products that make medicinal claims or with other non-edible CBD products like vapes. The FSA also only categorises CBD isolate, or synthesised CBD under the novel food act, therefore it is unclear what this will mean for full or broad-spectrum extracts. It is thought that they will fall under controlled substances which is controversial since a mix of cannabinoids is required for the therapeutic benefits of the entourage effect.
Vaping CBD - What’s the deal in the UK?
As with edible products, CBD used in e-liquids must be derived from EU approved industrial hemp with less than 0.2% THC. CBD vape products must also comply with non-nicotine e-liquid regulation.
Compared to oral consumption where much of the CBD is lost during the digestive process, inhaling CBD means that there is higher absorption into the bloodstream through the lungs. In other words, inhaling CBD has higher bioavailability in the body when compared to ingestion. The sale or possession of CBD flowers for smoking or any other purposes is prohibited, so vaping CBD is the method people use for faster-acting CBD consumption. If you are already a user of e-cigarettes, a CBD vape may be a smart choice since CBD could potentially help with curbing nicotine addictions. Although not as fast-acting, sublingual (under the tongue) application of a CBD tincture is also an effective method of bypassing the digestive system to get more CBD into the bloodstream.
Where can I vape in the UK?
As with cigarettes, you must be 18 or over to vape in the UK. However, vapes don't carry the same passive smoking health risks as conventional cigarettes, so the laws aren't as rigid for vaping as they are for cigarette smoking. Vaping in public spaces and inside is legal; however, there are still certain restrictions to be mindful of. Some examples are outlined below:
- Public transport - When it comes to vaping on public transport, the answer is almost always, no. Vaping is banned on buses, the London Underground and on most, if not all, train lines.
- Workplace - It is down to the discretion of the workplace, whether they provide indoor vaping areas for employees. It is best to check company policy.
- Pubs, restaurants, bars, shops, museums and art galleries - It is difficult to distinguish between cigarette smoke and vape smoke, so most venues place similar bans on vaping as they do smoking. This is not always the case, so again, it is best to check before using a vape inside.
- Driving - Vaping while driving in itself isn't illegal, but it is strongly advised against. If a police officer believes the vapour is distracting or has visually impaired the driver, you can be faced with a fine, points, or even a ban from driving.
As you can see, unlike cigarettes, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to where you can use your vape. Although there is no statutory law forbidding smoking inside, it is always best to check with the venue in question beforehand.
Airline Vape and CBD Policies
Before you travel, it's a good idea to check the rules regarding carrying vapes and CBD on flights. Most airlines now have an established policy when it comes to vapes; most will only allow them in carry-on bags and not in checked bags due to safety measures. CBD derived from EU approved industrial hemp strains containing THC of 0.2% or less is generally okay when visiting Europe. This percentage is generally accepted as it is low enough to be widely accepted as safe. When travelling with CBD, brand honesty and reputation is extremely important. A trusted brand will have their Certificate of Analysis (COA) from a third-party accredited lab on their website so you can double-check that the THC is compliant with the rules of the respective country. You can download ours from our website.
Be aware that CBD is strictly outlawed in Belarus and some countries in the Middle East. Always do your research before travelling with CBD.
Legal Status in Europe
Europe has a relatively liberal attitude when it comes to CBD and cannabis as a whole, from coffee shops in the Netherlands to broader use of medical marijuana in Germany. Although CBD and vaping are mostly legal in Europe, the rules and regulations vary from country to country.
Below, we've created a summary of the current stance on vaping and CBD in Europe:
CBD is legal, but products strictly must not contain any detectable levels of THC.
Cigarettes are synonymous with French culture, but France is now competing with the UK for the highest number of vapers with 7.7 and 9.2 million French residents having tried electronic cigarettes at some point. In keeping with EU regulations, you must be 18 years of age or older to purchase vaping products. Vaping is legal in public places but can vary from place to place when it comes to non-smoking areas. There's legislation permitting businesses to display signs on their vaping policy, so it's best to have a look around. Vaping is banned on public transport, in educational institutions, and open-plan offices.
CBD - Illegal
CBD is technically illegal without a prescription, but the laws around CBD are notoriously relaxed. Don't be surprised if you see health stores with shelves stocked with CBD products, but to be safe, avoid bringing or buying CBD products in Belgium.
Vaping restrictions apply in public places and are subject to the same laws as tobacco. You must be 18 or older to purchase vaping products, and because of the controls around CBD, CBD e-liquids are against the law.
CBD is legal as long as the THC does not exceed 0.2%.
Germany has historically been quite liberal when it comes to smoking and vaping. Vaping is permitted in public areas, but since 2007, you cannot use a vape on most of Germany's public transport systems. As per EU guidelines, Germany abides by the minimum age limit of 18 for vaping.
CBD - Restricted
Currently, CBD is available with a prescription only
As with the UK, vaping products cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18. You also cannot vape in a car with persons under 18.
CBD - Restricted
CBD laws in Spain are complicated. CBD in cosmetics is legal, but consumable products are not. Shops might sell consumable CBD products, but technically, they are illegal although the rules are poorly enforced.
Vaping is not permitted in any state-owned places like schools, public transport and is generally banned wherever smoking is also not allowed. Spain has tight regulations when it comes to smoking inside, with a ban on smoking in bars, restaurants, shops and workplaces.
CBD - Restricted
CBD is legal, but only available via prescription from a pharmacist.
Similar to Spain, vaping is banned where smoking is forbidden, which means no vaping in bars, restaurants, shops and public transport. Considering its liberal attitude to other substances, Portugal has a fairly strict stance on vaping. There is even a vape tax, so it may be wise to stock up before you go.
CBD - Legal
Italy has a long history of hemp cultivation, and generally has a progressive attitude towards cannabis. With the introduction of more conservative leaders, cannabis is a hotly debated subject, but as it stands CBD that does not exceed 0.6% THC is legal and available over-the-counter. Mild marijuana with THC that does not exceed 0.5%, known as cannabis light, is also possible to purchase legally.
Vaping has been a contested issue in Italy, but the government has lowered the controversial high taxes on vaping products and now has some of the lowest rates when compared to other EU countries that tax e-liquids. Again, where you can vape is subject to the same restrictions as smoking, so it is best to check with the venue when it comes to vaping inside.
CBD- CBD legal, CBD e-liquids banned
The Dutch are well-known for their laid-back culture when it comes to cannabis, so it comes as no surprise that, yes, CBD is available over-the-counter in the Netherlands. However, it is not as clear cut as you might think. E-liquid containing CBD is banned, and despite the decriminalisation of recreational marijuana, CBD oil must contain no more than 0.05% THC.
When it comes to where you can vape, the rules are easy-going, with vaping permitted outside and in many indoor venues. But remember, CBD e-liquid is illegal, so avoid purchasing it in the Netherlands.
CBD - Legal
Denmark has only recently softened the laws around CBD, but it is still tightly regulated. Since 2018, CBD with a THC of 0.2% or less can legally be bought without a prescription.
Just like CBD, until recently the Danish government considered vapes a medical device. Since 2016, e-liquids have been available for purchase online and over-the-counter. Vaping is permitted in public places.
CBD - Legal
Cannabis laws in Switzerland are more lenient than in most of Europe. CBD is available for purchase without prescription with a comparatively high limit of up to 1% THC.
Vaping -A ban on vaping was overturned in 2018, and in terms of where you can vape, it is best practice to follow the same rules as set for cigarette smoking.
Europe generally has a progressive attitude when it comes to CBD with a THC concentration of 0.2% or less. CBD is also currently legal in the following European countries: Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland (with prescription only), Greece, Hungary, Iceland (0% THC and no food products containing CBD), Ireland (0% THC), Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta (with prescription only), Poland, Portugal (with prescription only), Romania and Slovenia, Sweden (0% THC), Turkey (0% THC) and Ukraine (0% THC).
Where else in Europe is CBD illegal?
Keep an eye on laws in the following countries where CBD has not yet been legalised: Albania, Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro and Slovakia. Slovakia comes with the strictest laws on cannabis derivatives, so it is one to be aware of.
Where in Europe do I need to be careful with vaping?
Most European countries have followed the rules and regulations of cigarettes and applied them to vaping, but one country to be aware of is Turkey. The Turkish president has a strong stance against smoking. Although vaping is widely considered a safer alternative to smoking, he decided to outlaw the purchasing and distribution of vaping products. That means you can legally vape while in Turkey, but bring what you need with you as you won't be able to purchase it there.
CBD laws in the USA
Just as European CBD laws differ from country to country, US laws vary state to state. Similar to the European Novel Food Act, the US passed the 2018 Farm Bill which removed hemp from the schedule 1 controlled substances list and legalised hemp containing no more than 0.3% THC. This federal law applies to all 50 states, but each state has its own systems and laws.
With the variance in law across the US, a traffic-light system is used to categorise each state's stance on the cannabis legalities –
- Green States– Cannabis is legalised for recreational and medicinal use, which includes cannabis derivatives like CBD oil; Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Washington DC.
- Amber States – Cannabis and related products are legal for medicinal use, although you may need to have a prescription or hold a medical marijuana card; Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, West Virginia.
- Amber-Red States– These can be the trickiest to navigate, recreational and medicinal marijuana is illegal, CBD is legal but may be subject to certain conditions like having severe epilepsy. When it comes to Amber-Red states, it is best to do your research about specific state regulations; Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
- Red States – All cannabis products are illegal without any exceptions; Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota
In almost all states where cannabis products are legal, you must be 21 years or older to purchase products containing cannabis derivatives or to enter any cannabis dispensaries.
Vaping in the US
The American vaping crisis, where black market e-liquids were linked to mysterious illnesses and some fatalities, gave rise to new and necessary regulation of vaping products in the US. Federal law stated that all vape manufacturers had to apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by May 2020, in which they had to provide evidence that their products are safe for public consumption. There are also ongoing discussions around banning flavoured e-liquids as they are thought to appeal to younger users.
Many states have prohibited the use of vapes at indoor venues following current smoking legislation. States where vaping indoors is currently unregulated are Nebraska, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. There are also individual regulations within localities, so it is always best to check with local authorities to see what rules apply. During the vaping crisis, some states took a prohibitionist stance on vaping which have since been lifted. With the new regulations, e-liquids must not contain vitamin E acetate, which was linked to the mysterious vaping-related diseases. Some states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island still have restrictions when it comes to flavoured e-liquids, but the ban does not extend to e-liquids containing CBD derivatives. Overall, states seem to agree that tighter regulations of e-liquids are a better alternative than an outright ban.
CBD Laws in Canada
Canada has arguably the most progressive view on cannabis, legalising it for medicinal use way back in 2001 and decriminalised marijuana for recreational use in 2018. To purchase CBD, you must be 18 years of age or older in Alberta and Quebec, and 19 or older in the remaining eight provinces.
CBD is available over-the-counter in Canada, and is completely legal as per the Cannabis Act, and there are strict rules and regulations on the possession, production, distribution and sale of CBD products. Health Canada oversees the production of CBD as well as cannabis products, whereas individual territories and provinces are responsible for managing and regulating the distribution of CBD itself.
Vaping in Canada
In Canada, vapes are 100% legal for individual use. There are currently no set regulations as to where you can use them, but again, different businesses may hold their own rules when it comes to vaping inside.
At Amphora, we've gone the extra mile to ensure all of our products are compliant with UK and European law, by analysing our samples through an accredited third-party lab. Available to download on our website, each product has a COA providing a breakdown of the cannabinoid profile which can be used to judge whether it is compliant with the law.
Written by | Infused Amphora Team
The Infused Amphora Team is dedicated to creating resources to educate and engage consumers on the growing evidence of CBD benefits and the extensive health and wellness properties of CBD oil.
Contributors | Angus Taylor + Dr Gaylord Wardell
IPI is a pharmaceutical ingredient company that cultivates cannabis strains curated to extract specific cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids for the formulation of effects-based health and wellness products. Angus is an experienced public speaker, engaging stakeholders, governments and media. Angus was the co-founder of NewLeaf Cannabis, Canada’s most successful retail brand to date, and has been established as a well-known and recognized expert in the field.
Dr Wardell is a practising physician with over 40 years of clinical and educational experience in pain management, medical practices and education. Dr Wardell is past President of the Pain Society of Alberta, and current President of the Alberta Medical Association, section of Pain. He is a popular public speaker, an active blogger on medical and pain-related issues, and proponent for scientific validation for patients experiencing pain.
Infused Amphora “Learn” is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Contributors | Angus Taylor + Dr Gaylord Wardell